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Obama’s Four-Letter Words and Cushing, Oklahoma

March 22nd, 2012 · 6 Comments

President Barack Obama is barnstorming the nation promoting his “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

Watching this parade reinforces that ‘Climate Change’ and ‘Global Warming’ (let alone climate chaos or catastrophic climate chaos or …) appear to be banned four-letter phrases in the Obama Administation lexicon.

Yesterday, the President was in Boulder City, Nevada, standing in front of a solar electricity facility speaking about clean energy.

Boulder City is the first stop on a tour where I’ll be talking about what we’re calling an all-of-the-above energy strategy — all of the above. A strategy that relies on producing more oil and gas here in America, but also more biofuels, more fuel-efficient cars, more wind power and, as you can see, a whole lot more solar power.

This is the largest solar plant of its kind anywhere in the country. That’s worth applauding. (Applause.) Every year, you produce enough clean energy to power around 17,000 homes. And that’s just the beginning. Things are going so well that another plant is already under construction down the road that will eventually power another 45,000 homes. And a third plant is in development that will be, one day, able to power around 66,000 homes.

Yesterday, the President spoke forcefully about clean energy and the potential to create jobs with clean energy projects without a syllable on how solar power means less carbon dioxide and fewer mercury poisonings per kWh and allows us to light our homes while protecting our children’s future.

Today, the President was in Cushing, Oklahoma, with a speech focused on oil production and promoting pipelines.

Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. (Applause.) That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.

During the speech, the President announced a plan to accelerate approval of a major pipeline and plans to move forward with reviewing the Keystone XL pipeline.  Nothing, though, about the health risks from burning fossil fuels (estimated by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) at over $100 billion a year in costs) and how much carbon the U.S. emits in its transportation system.

Now, look to the paragraph as to why Keystone XL merited further examination:

Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast. And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done. (Applause.)

Now, you wouldn’t know all this from listening to the television set. (Laughter.) This whole issue of the Keystone pipeline had generated, obviously, a lot of controversy and a lot of politics. And that’s because the original route from Canada into the United States was planned through an area in Nebraska that supplies some drinking water for nearly 2 million Americans, and irrigation for a good portion of America’s croplands. And Nebraskans of all political stripes — including the Republican governor there — raised some concerns about the safety and wisdom of that route.

Why was (is) Keystone controversial? Because “Nebraskans … raised some concerns abou the safety and wisdom of that route …” Nothing, nada, on the climate change (and other environmental) implications of fostering increased exploitation of Canadian Tar Sands.

That is, perhaps, because ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ (let alone climate chaos or catastrophic climate chaos or …) appear to be banned four-letter phrases in the Obama Administation lexicon.

The President’s speech in Nevada, yesterday, focused on “clean energy”. “Clean Energy Jobs” and economic competition with the PRC and the Congressional Flat Earth Society all were part of the President’s discussion but the President discussed “clean energy” without a sentence linking clean-energy developments to reducing fossil fuel impacts on American health nor even an aside comment how moving to clean energy is critical to any hopes we have to mitigate climate change and protect the nation from catastrophic climate chaos.  The President could have spoken about how these are win-win investments due to the economic value streams and the importance of reducing climate (and other environmental) risks/costs.  But, no, “climate change” is a four-letter word.

Today, the President spoke forcefully about how much oil production has increased during his Administration and bragged about new pipelines without giving any hint that the nation’s oil addiction creates health and other costs while increasing our risks from catastrophic climate chaos.

Let us be clear, we cannot make rational choices about our energy system without considering economic and environmental and climate issues — abandoning conversation about the complex systems-of-systems challenges and opportunities inhibits moving toward sensible solutions.

The White House staff — the President — has clearly decided that “climate change” is not a ‘winning issue’. Rather than educating the nation about the risks we are creating, silence reigns.

As Bill McKibben put it,

And if you think about it, “all of the above” is not a particularly coherent energy policy, not if one worries about climate change. Burning all the oil you can and then putting up a solar panel is like drinking six martinis at lunch and then downing a VitaminWater. You’re still a drunk — just one with your daily requirement of C and D. If a presidential candidate said they had an “all of the above” foreign policy, where every other nation was an equal ally, they’d be thought lightweight or even dangerous. But with energy, it apparently seems politic to insist we need never make a choice. Or at least to tailor your talking points to your audience.

Within the White House, Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, is most likely the key coordinating person in the White House staff for the President’s energy speeches and almost certainly has had an opportunity to weigh in on the development of them. In light of the stunning silence on climate issues in these speeches, one has to wonder why Zichal’s title isn’t changed to “Deputy Assistant to the President for All-of-the-Above Energy”.


The avoidance of “climate change” and “global warming” isn’t isolated to just these speeches but are notable in their absence throughout the Administration’s discussion of energy issues.  The State of the Union address, The Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future: One-Year Progress Report, and so many other documents and speeches notable for how absent “climate change” issues are from the discussion.

Even more than when President Obama admitted his daughters care more about climate change than he does, one of the most telling items came during President Obama’s recent exchange with Oprah Winfrey:

“We’ve had a good day,” Obama continued. “It’s warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what’s happening to global temperatures. But when it’s 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March it gets you thinking…”

“Something’s wrong,” Oprah interjected.

“Yeah,” Obama said in passing. “On other hand we really have enjoyed the nice weather.”

Considering the freakishly hot heat wave hitting most of the nation, with new high temperature records outpacing new low temperature records at a 20-to-1 pace (literally an order of magnitude greater imbalance than imbalanced 2001-2010 period), President Obama can’t riff off Oprah’s “something’s wrong” to lay out why clean-energy investments are so critically important?  He can’t take a moment to contrast reality when it comes to climate science issues with the anti-science syndrome suffering Congressional Flat Earthers?  While the President can take a British Prime Minister to a March Madness game, he can’t take the time to discuss the March Madness that is an eerie sign of mounting global weirding?

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Tags: anti-science syndrome · catastrophic climate change · climate change · climate zombies · Global Warming · Obama Administration · political symbols · President Barack Obama

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 FishOutofWater // Mar 22, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Obama’s team is freaking out over the political impacts of high gasoline prices. His failure to discuss climate change when handed the opportunity on a platter shows how fearful he is of the right wing media machine.

  • 2 John Egan // Mar 23, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    The reason Obama doesn’t mention climate change is that it is political kryptonite. You guys just don’t get it.

    Actually, if polling matters, why not start looking into it …

    Even if you are right (and there’s nothing worse than the much-maligned righteous),

    “Even if … right …” Thus, you reject science?

    politically it is a “No Sale” – with less-than-pleasant electoral results. Not to mention that no one enjoys a three-hour sermon – for which many AGWers have a natural propensity.

    There is nothing here about “three hour sermon”.

    You can be right until the cows come home – but if the Coalition wins in Australia, the Conservatives in Canada, and the Republicans in the U.S. – – it doesn’t do a whole lot to advance climate policy, eh? Not to mention a whole range of other progressive issues.

  • 3 John Egan // Mar 24, 2012 at 8:08 am


    Obviously not …

    Until you and other AGWers


    You mean people who understand and respect science and are concerned over humanity’s impact on the climate and the implications for human civilization?

    understand a materialist perspective views

    You read enough here to know the absurdity of your flailing at me.

    Why not start here:

    such as the above post will condemn progressive parties to political oblivion.


    In your outrage, it is totally the responsbility of those concerned about climate science?

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    […] Obama’s Four-Letter Words and Cushing, Oklahoma […]

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    […] Obama’s Four-Letter Words and Cushing, Oklahoma […]

  • 6 Updates: news releases and updates // May 1, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    […] All of the above is an appallingly hollow answer to living life, and it is an appallingly hollow answer to the real decisions that leaders in the United States and around the world have to make to answer the challenges of global warming and how we generate and use energy. It is frankly disappointing that this is President Obama’s energy message.  […]